Colour has returned 
I had carefully searched all the second hand televisions available throughout Auckland. I was on the verge of buying one, when Bronwyn walked home lugging a new one. Apparently it was on special. So now we have colour back in our lives again. It has one issue; the TV starts in normal mode from the aerial. You have to switch to the AV input manually. But the sound from the aerial is about four times louder than the AV input, so if you're switching on when the children are asleep, you have to switch the mode quickly otherwise you wake everyone on the farm!

Went to Hamilton Zoo on the way back. It's a nice zoo; quite quiet and plenty of gardens as well as the animals. But avoid the Kakas. They're the parrots in the free-flight aviary. They've been trained to eat food from the keeper's shoulder.

There were two of them. One landed on my shoulder, the other on Bronwyn. We stood still for a few seconds, then I reached out my hand to the bird. It gave my finger a gentle peck. But it had quite a large beak, and I pulled my hand away. It gave a hideous squawk (my ears were ringing for an hour) and flew off. The other one did the same, and both of them flew around squawking with quite deafening volume. Sarah was cringing under Bronwyn's legs. Fortunately we were only a few feet from the exit...

Had a barbecue on Saturday for Bronwyn's workmates. It was a howling gale outside and close to freezing, so it was an indoor barbecue. I got the house as warm as I could with our remaining firewood. We're running low, so I went out to the old pine tree (which is lying in pieces in the paddock) and sawed off a few bits. Fortunately Bronwyn's dad has finally cut us some firewood, so we're OK for the next few days. I've put a sheet over the mandarin tree to stop it freezing.

Bronwyn's on antibiotics with a nasty cough, and propped up on as many pillows as she can find. This is after she went out herding cows on Sunday. Not sure why they didn't ask me to do it!

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Apologies for not writing last week; I had quite a pile to get through. But we're off for a weekend break with Sarah now, so I've got a chance to catch up. I prepared a complex itinerary for Rachael back at home - she's being shuttled between about 4 different houses!

Gave up on the cat for the time being. He's too light to spring the trap. And he seems to be doing fine out in the woods. But if I get a chance, I'll try modifying the trap...

I wanted to tidy Sarah's room, and clear out the baby stuff. Except that this meant I needed to tidy the spare room too, in order to find somewhere to put it. I also wanted to put a lock on the spare room door, to stop Rachael and Sarah untidying it again, and mend a bean bag which had been burrowed by a colony of mice a few months back.
Meanwhile, I bought a second hand scanner because our current one uses the old style printer plug, and I needed USB. So I spent all Saturday tidying the spare room (still not finished), going shopping for bits and pieces, fetching the scanner, and buying polystyrene for the bean bag. I decided we didn't need a lock for the spare room - I simply removed the door handle! It's now impossible to get into without pliers (or the door handle).

Meanwhile, our TV broke on Saturday night, so I'm now in the market for a second hand TV. It's OK, but only for programmes broadcast entirely in bright green. These are few and far between. But you get used to it after a while.

Meanwhile, I took my car for a service, and the first thing he said when I returned was "Were you thinking of upgrading?". So it looks like I'll be in need of a new car as well. Probably a small one or a hybrid, given the price of petrol.

Meanwhile, we're still going through financial difficulties at work, and we're losing three more people. My wages got paid in three installments, but at least this time it was all in one week. However, things have been quiet this week. We're approaching the end of out major upgrading project, and it's school holidays in a week or two, so we will have a chance to catch up and get things running smoothly. I've put aside thoughts of getting a new job for the time being!

Meanwhile, Bronwyn is looking at a childcare centre in the village just down the road from us. They can only have her part time, which suits her just fine. She's yet to get to an interview, but it sounds a lot better than the current job, which is a twenty minute drive without traffic.

So we're all in need of a quiet weekend. Bronwyn is in bed, I'm on a sofa, and Sarah is downstairs entertaining the landlady. I had intended to drop in on some friends nearby, but they've all got colds! Not surprising - we've had some very wet, cold and windy weather lately. It was quite a journey down - sometimes the spray from the trucks was so much I could hardly see. The forecast was for more of the same today, but so far it's not too bad!

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Still no cat... 
The cat food is disappearing. The trap is set. Somehow Smokey utilises a zero-gravity field which prevents the trap going off. Maybe he's lost weight. But his one big weakness is food, so I shall keep persevering. We have a collar ready for him, and we'll book him in for the vet, and then let him decide what he wants to do with his life...

The contest went quite well, and there were no major mishaps, apart from a tuning slide on a euphonium that kept falling out. It was set at its maximum length due to it being so out of tune. I think it was the nerves that caused it to wobble free. Haven't heard the results yet; I understand the senior band didn't do well, but as always we were grouped in with the next grade up. The Auxiliary band collected a couple of trophies, however.

Quite mild here. Still plenty of leaves on the trees. We've only had one slight frost.

Spent 5 hours yesterday tidying the lounge. Even tipped up the sofas. Rachael is doing her best to untidy it. People have been giving me tips about how to make her tidy her room. Most involve a large rubbish bag for all the toys.

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Cat food 
The brass band is gearing up for the Auckland contest next week. I've got a couple of bits I need to practice, and I've been driving everybody mad with them. But they're nearly there. The contest is at the far end of Auckland, and we're supposed to be there for 10am. This means leaving home at 9am. We won't be on stage until 1pm.

Smokey has been seen up by the barn, and I now have a paw print to prove it. His greatest weakness is food, so if I can find a cage trap, we might be able to retrieve him.

Went to a birthday party for my old boss last night. He's 41, but decided to celebrate his 40th a year late. He's a great connoisseur of all things edible, so I ended up rather full...

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More birthdays 
It was Rachael's birthday yesterday. Bronwyn bought a small chocolate cake, and we lit some candles, but we've already had the big party so she won't get a lot more. Bronwyn's parents are coming round tonight for yet another family meal (we seem to be getting a lot of birthdays with two parents, five children, and three grandchildren in the family so far).

Stormy has been spotted! Bronwyn's dad was out in the tractor up by the hay barn, and spotted him hiding up there. So we've been putting out food, and something has been eating it. Don't think it's our dog, but he does have a liking for cat food, or indeed any food apart from carrots and green vegetables. But the hay barn is a quarter mile away, and the dog doesn't wander far.

Our mousetraps disappeared after the party. I suspect one of the children might have moved them, or quietly disposed of them. Meanwhile, we've had mice in several rooms, and a loud squeaking under the sink. Bronwyn bought a couple more mousetraps, and we've caught three so far.

Don't know how much longer I'll stick it out at work. They're in financial problems, and I got paid nearly two weeks late. I feel a duty to the old boss, who's still there as a programmer, because he brought it up from nothing and paid a high price for it. But I don't like the way it's been run recently. We seem to have too many chiefs and not enough indians, and lurch from one crisis to another.

Bronwyn is still at her job. One staff member (who had been a bit of a problem) was suspended recently, and another has left. This makes Bronwyn effectively second in command. Things seem to have settled a bit, because she hasn't been talking of leaving for several weeks now.

Two of Bronwyn's brothers are also in difficulty. One hasn't been paid properly for months, and another has just been made redundant. Seems like everyone is having problems right now!

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